9 Things Every Solo Female Traveler Needs in the Bag

It is incredible to think that just over three years ago (and to some extent now) I was a novice traveler. At 23, I was bright-eyed and practically had the words “have passport, will travel” tattooed on my forehead. Ohhhhh, did I have so much to learn.

The passport is essential, it’s huge, but there are so many little bits and bobs that can make the trip that much easier.  I thought that I would share some packing essentials for new solo female travelers (and maybe even some of you seasoned vets out there). Here’s a shortlist of things I always throw in my bag before jetting off, whether I’m going to Birmingham or Hong Kong.

9 Things Every Solo Female Traveler Needs

  1. WetOnes: Or whatever brand you prefer, but disinfectant wipes when traveling are an absolute must-have. I like WetOnes because they disinfect but are also skin-safe so that they can be used for messy hands, as well. You may also want to supplement with flushable wipes. These are great for freshening up after you land or while on the plane.
  2. Hand Sanitizer: Second to the wipes is definitely carrying a small hand sanitizer. Planes (and sometimes airports) are really gross places, full of germs and recycled air. Hand sanitizer is a nifty way to try to keep germ free during your travels. This is particularly important in the age of COVID. People are gross, so protect yourself, ladies!
  3. Flashlight: So, this may be a less obvious item to pack, but all the same, I recommend that you bring along a flashlight when you travel. As my mom always says, “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” Also, a small travel flashlight and double as a self-defense tool, that is especially handy for people who like to travel on their own. I carry a J5 Hyper-V flashlight in my bag on regular outings, and in my carry-on while I’m going. It’s about the width of my hand and has raised groves around the light that is capable of some significant rug burn. Although it’s small, it features a 400 Lumen brightness (I promise this isn’t a paid advertisement lol). I have linked the flashlight in this list if anyone is interested, it’s only $30 and could help you out in a pinch.
  4. Tea or Coffee, Snacks, & a Bottle: So, this is another item that might surprise you, but picture this. You’ve managed not only to snag a killer flight to London, but you’ve also found a return ticket to Oslo for ten dollars. So there you stand, on the corner of a slush (formally snow…I think) covered sidewalk, cold to your core. Do you know it would be great? Tea! Do you know what is unnecessarily expensive? Tea! Don’t you wish you just had to buy hot water now?
    That weirdly specific, but entirely hypothetical, example aside, it’s also handy to have when you’re staying in a hostel or a hotel and just can’t be asked to leave again (partially because, as a Floridian, you cannot deal with walking in snow) and are yearning for the sweet embrace of caffeine. In that same vein, if you can spare the space, I also highly recommend bringing a reusable mug and a water bottle. It also provides a convenient place to store your coffee or tea and sugars.
    Snacks—snacks—snacks! I cannot live without them, and on a long-haul flight, these are essential. Especially if you are like me and rarely sleep on flights. It’s just a movie binge-fest, and you’re bound to get hungry between the strangely early dinner, and the sort of sparse breakfast served before the descent. It’ll save you a bundle instead of buying overpriced broth they’ve deceivingly named soup.
  5. OTC Medicine: This a staple—especially on long haul flights or in low-quality airlines. Between the recycled air, the weird (but very delicious) plane food, and the stress of travel days, there are a few items I recommend throwing in your carry-on before jetting off.
    • Cystex: this is an overt the counter medication that helps with UTI. I know some people don’t like getting up to go on flights, and this is a real concern for these people. If you’re prone to hold it (which I don’t recommend), this is key.
    • Advil Cold & Sinus: this is actual life (I promise, this is also not a paid advertisement). I live and die by Advil Cold & Sinus. If you’re feeling a bit grimy all around, this is the OTC for you. But simple paracetamol or ibuprofen is also handy.
  6. A Pen: Just a plain old pen…tactical if ya nasty. Seems like a duh kind of thing, right? I have been on far too many flights with people looking wise-and-otherwise when the need for a pen arises. Whether you chat up your neighbor and decide to exchange information the old-fashioned way or (and far more likely) some pre-landing immigration paperwork is passed out, a pen is essential to being a prepared traveler. This will help you get ahead in the queue and save the frustration of writing with a tiny chain pen while you watch the line to the border get longer and longer.

7. First Aid Kit: A basic necessity, and also a place to shove a few of those tablets I mentioned earlier. Accidents happen, and as mom says, “better to have,” eh?

8. Mini Survival Kit: So, my kit came from my generous and always prepared mother. It’s not something I’d recommend you put in your carry-on, although I do not believe there is anything that could be confiscated and usually travel with mine in the carry-on if I have the room. I use the Stealth Angel kit. This is an 8-in-1 kit that has several good things to have handy for solo travelers. It takes care of two of the items on this list (a flashlight and a tactical pen).  I’ve posted the link above.

9. Portable Charger and a converter: These are probably another no-brainer for the modern-day traveler, but a dependable portable charger is your very best friend. Trust me, the suspiciously cheap charger they are selling in Primark is not gonna do right by you, so spend the money. I also always keep a Euro charger in my bag. It’s pretty easy to determine which plug based on the country unless you’re going to Asia/Africa. It may be worth the money to invest in a multi-destination converter.

I hope you guys find this list helpful! Please, let me know what your must-haves are for when you travel!Comment below with your thoughts a comments!

Until next time, stay safe out there!

Bonne journée!

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The Great Trip to Nowhere: Part Two

Another weekend has passed, and we all know what that means—another installment of Trips to Nowhere. This week’s trip is brought to you by the numbers 76 and 100, the direction North, and the color Green

We find ourselves headed toward the little pastoral town of Chipley, FL. I know you’re probably wondering, what is a Chipley, and where is that? The answer is a small town in the Florida Panhandle. But let me pitch the trip to you, first, before we get into the who, what, where, when, and why.

76 feet high…100 feet deep.

Bustling with wildlife and rich in greenery.

Accessible to all person, young and old.

May I present to you…

The Falling Waters State Park!

If you were not tipped off the subtle naming, Falling Waters State Park is home to…wait for itFlorida’s tallest waterfall. Spectacular right? Totally worth the (gorgeous) drive north, right? Right! I totally agree. Wow, we have some much in common!

Okay, let’s get into the specifics.

The Preparation

As you will recall, in the first installment of Trips to Nowhere, we headed south…like all the way. It was nearly on a whim (you can read more about that here), and we grabbed lunch on the way down. Our itinerary was also, more or less, determined as we drove down. This week’s trip is a bit of a departure from that.

We settled on Falling Waters SP on Saturday, so the whim is still there. I mean after all, variety is the spice of life. This week we based out of Central Florida, so the drive to the panhandle was not nearly as impossible.

We also decided to pack our lunch. Saturday evening we popped to the store to grab some lunch essentials (bread, cheese, bacon) and this morning we packed up our supplies.

The nature of this trip disqualified Mix Master Lily, but she seemed pretty okay with the choice. Jack donned his adventure harness, we packed in our lunch and set off.

The Journey

We had a couple of options for this trip. We could have gone with a heavy emphasis on the scenic route and taken Route One up from Orlando. This would’ve added about 1.5 hrs to our trip, with the maximum speeds being considerably lower than on the freeways or toll roads. So, we decided to take the turnpike up to 75, through Gainesville, and across the Panhandle to Chipley.

The view along the Turnpike, I-75, and I-10 are all ridiculously nice. If Florida does nothing else, it maintains its highways. I-10 has a massive solar farm along the side of the road, that is interesting to see, but it’s otherwise a very idyllic drive.

There is a timezone change, but it didn’t really make a difference. All in all, we spent about ten hours driving there and back.

Falling Waters State Park

If you know anything about Florida at all, you know that the Panhandle can get a bit…to say the least. So, first impressions were a pretty big point of interest for us as we pulled into Falling Waters State Park.

They were really, really lovely! Both the staff and the other park guests. After everyone briefly stretched their legs, we lugged our cooler over to one of the two covered picnic pavillions. The pavillions can be rented, but they were relatively unoccupied.

The park has social distancing guidelines posted throughout areas in which people may be congregating. People, from what we could tell, seemed to be abiding these guidelines and the bathrooms were cleaned while we were there.

Crowd Density

Now we didn’t discuss this in the first Great Trip to Nowhere because the Keys had taken precautions to avoid crowds and iniated a mandatory mask order in covered buildings. There were a good number of families at the state park.

In addition to having Florida’s tallest waterfall, FWSP also boasts a decent size lake and campground. The lake and the campground were both decently full. On the trail, there were some pretty large family groups (8+ people), both from in town and out-of-state, but everyone was giving each other space.

Waterfall Time!

There is a very short walk to get from the pavilion area to the waterfalls/sinkholes. The trail map seemed to indicate it would take ~45 minutes, but that didn’t really seem the case to us and we are not experienced hikers.

The trail to the Sinkhole and the Waterfalls are paved in some areas, and a boardwalk in others. There is protective fencing to keep visitors on the pathway. There are three overlooks for the waterfall–two above the falls on either side and one below the falls.

We didn’t get to go super close the falls because there was a huge family at the bottom taking photos, but in the overlook above the falls, there were some pretty good views. Further down the paved pathway, there are other sinkholes that have been filled with an overgrowth of foliage.

FWSP was a really awesome site, and while it wasn’t the most roaring of waterfalls, it was still a wonder because Florida doesn’t have a huge variation in elevation.

Where are you kids off to for your next adventure? We’d love to hear your stories!

Are you interested in getting out there? Florida has tons (I’m not kidding, it’s like over 6 million acres) of state and local parks. We named a few that aren’t too far from a major metropolitan area in 11 Digital Nomad Friendly Campsites in Florida that Won’t Break the Bank (Read here).

You can also visit Florida State Parks website (here). Their ‘Find a Park’ tool lets you search by park type, amenity, area, and activity.

Until next time, stay safe out there!

Bonne journée!

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Eddies is a supportive community of full and part-time nomads, dedicated to creating a sense of togetherness.

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The Great Trip to Nowhere: Part One

From time to time, we all get a little stir crazy. This is a particularly poignant point given the current situation. Of all of the…unplanned (shall we say?) adventures we took with my mother as children, one moment stands out in particular. Let me set the scene for you.

My mother had just given birth to my youngest sister. Without any real notice, she loaded us into the car, baby included and hopped onto the road. Before we really got going, we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some lunch items. From there, our little car headed straight to the main thoroughfare and she asked us one question: Should we go left or should we go right?

A cascade of ‘Left!’ rained down on her. With only a direction, we exited left and continued to tool down the highway. In a few short hours, we found ourselves on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Our Trip to Nowhere

“I really want to see some water,” that thought had been on my mind for several days. Maybe spurned on by the prolonged discouragement from local officials to go to the beach (you know, I’m a rebel*) or because I’d been longing to visit one of the rest area’s in Architectural Digest’s 15 Most Beautiful Rest Stops in America, who really knows. All I knew is, I wanted to see water and I wouldn’t mind a non-commute related drive.

Paige and Kate joined me on Friday, with Jack and Lily in tow. We hadn’t really planned anything for the Fourth of July–what with Coronavirus and the country considering what Independence Day really meant in a grand scheme of things. The constellation of things: coronavirus, a desire to see water, and an itch for the road culminated in one question for the girls and I to consider.

Left or Right?

We had two options: drive to St.Pete, and sit on the water in our car or drive to the most vague, and geographically closest, rest stop on the AD list. Once again, left prevailed. We packed the whole gang into the Jeep and set off down 80 toward Route 1.

The Route

We started our trip ~roughly~ in the area of Labelle. From 80, we hopped onto Highway 27. Highway 27 took us across the state to 75 and that carried us all the way down to Route 1.

Route 1, as many of you know, takes you down along the Eastern seaboard, and is an absolutely goregous ride. Full warning though, it’s super slow–so maybe not a trip for those in a rush.

About a third of the way down to the Keys, we pulled through Clewiston to top up on gas and grab what would amount to our packed lunch. We debated stopping in at the Wal-Mart (which had an ungodly amount of people in the parking lot) and grabbing some items for packed lunch, but instead opted for the Family Meal Deal from Sonny’s.

After our top up, and a very long, but understandable wait, we were back on the road!

The Keys

At last, at last! We arrive at the Famed Florida Keys. Initially, I’d put the Keys Visitor Center as our final destination. But imagine my confusion (and maybe a little horror) when we rolled past a weather-beaten white building with the words VISITOR’S CENTER printed across the top. There was not an ocean, nor a Gulf View and it was very, very much closed.

So we asked ourselves another question: should we stay or should we go?

Another quick examination of AD’s article leads us an hour further down the road, to Seven Mile Bridge, where the supposed rest area was. With the holiday, Monroe County decided to implement the preventative measure of closing all public beaches, county-owned parks, and state parks.

As we barrelled toward Seven Mile Bridge at a mind-spinning 45 miles per hour, we spied a perfect place to have a (now somewhat cold) lunch along a fishing pier. Check out the pier for yourself here.

After our lunch, and commemorating Lil’s first road trip, we continued our search for one of the most beautiful rest areas. Dusk was quickly upon us, and as we reached the Seven Mile Bridge, there was no open rest stop that we could see.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation, there are no rest areas in the Florida Keys. A curious assertion after reading AD’s article. After stopping at the Overseas Highway Pier for some lunch, we think the rest area maybe a little less official than originally asserted. And while there was no thatched roof paradise waiting for just before or beyond the Seven Mile Bridge, we had an absolutely excellent trip.

Now, I have a question for you: which way ya goin’? Left or right…

Thanks for traveling with us!

Bonne journee!

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